Overtime for farmworkers passes state assembly, farmers worry about impact if signed into law

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Ag workers would earn overtime after eight hours a day, or 40 hours a week. Currently, overtime isn't paid until after 10 hours a day. (KFSN)

A bill expanding overtime pay on the farm has passed the state assembly. Ag workers would earn overtime after eight hours a day, or 40 hours a week. Currently, overtime isn't paid until after 10 hours a day.

"Kill this or kill my farm. That's the way I'm seeing this right now," said Sophia Nagao, Selma raisin grower.

Nagao was busy making raisins at the 60 acre Selma farm she runs with her husband Brent. Nagao spoke out against AB1066 at the state capitol on Monday. She said extended hours are typically only needed during harvest.

"I understand the fairness, the wage over time. I understand that coming from a Hispanic family growing up in the fields picking the crops, but now I'm on the other side. I'm a farmer."

The overtime bill would bring agriculture more in line with other industries.

"It's past time to right a wrong. A wrong that takes money out of the hands that put food on our tables," said Asmb. Anthony Rendon, (D) Paramount.

"I wish those people down there would come down here. Put your hands in the soil. Work here for eight hours and tell me that this should not go through," said Nagao.

Many Valley growers said the bill would actually result in smaller paychecks for workers.

"We'd have to stop them at the eight hours and say, 'okay we can't do the overtime. Bring another crew in and have them do it,' said Nagao.

But the United Farmworkers hope Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill into law.

"We're tremendously excited. We're very thankful to all the members of the state legislature that worked very hard and thought through this process," said Arturo Rodriguez, UFW President.

Nagao worries the bill could spell the end for small farms like hers.

"I'm dressed like this because I work here during the day. My husband works full-time so that we can manage to continue this legacy that our parents and his grandparents left for him."
Related Topics:
politicsagriculturefarmingcaliforniaSelma
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